A Few Thoughts on Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is one of those topics that is seldom touched upon, but the effects of which are keenly felt throughout an LGS or meta.  It strikes me as a tricky thing to fully define as much of what makes for “good” sportsmanship is very subjective, with that in mind ill try to stick to general themes.

What is it that makes some players a very enjoyable game, while others an exercise in self-control?  There have been games were I was taken to the cleaners and walked away from the table smiling, while others I have tabled an opponent and gone home livid.  Why? Simply put, the opponents sportsmanship.  It is the one quality a player possesses that I have seen ignore skill level while making or breaking a reputation.  So, what is good sportsmanship?

For myself I never gave it much thought until the 2014 Fall IMC.  I had picked the game up a little over a year before, I learned quick and was enjoying moderate success in the LGS, so when the chance to play in larger tournament came around I jumped on it.  I’d had no illusions of winning the whole thing, but I had been fairly confident of doing well.  Suffice to say I drove 6 hrs to suffer the wrath of the dice gods.  My first game I was outplayed handily, the next 2 I set up perfect assassination runs with Bethayne and Belphagor and proceeded to roll trip 1s three times straight followed by 4 on 3d6 needing 8 to hit, 4 times.  I did not react well to put in mildly, dropped, and went to downtown Ogden to wallow in self-pity.  On the ride home it hit me that I had been a colossal ass and those games probably hadn’t been enjoyable in any way for my opponent.  That was when I decided to do a little self-examination and kick some bad gamer habits.

I love page 5 of the rule book, but for me it is entirely to long-winded.  It can be easily summed up in one sentence, Don’t be a bitch! Rule 1 of DBAB, and yes this is a rule, do not complain about dice. Rule 2 of DBAB, for the love of the Devourer Worm you are a grown ass person, stop complaining about your dice!! This will ruin a game faster than anything I can think of, both for yourself and for your opponent.  Full disclosure, when I started playing Warmachine/Hordes I was poster child for dice rage, I can say from experience that putting the kibosh on that habit has made my gaming experience exponentially more enjoyable.  A solution to this is put the money together and buy precision dice.  Seems simple, but the mental question marks it removes will grant a surprising peace of mind for both yourself and those you play against.

Probably the simplest aspect of good sportsmanship is be pleasant, win or lose.  Easy to say, not always so easy to do in the heat of the moment.  In my personal experience this has done wonders for both my enjoyment of the game, and how I react to adversity during a match.  Lets face it, when we play we tend to feed off one another’s enthusiasm or negativity, therefore winning or losing DBAB!  Two things I have noticed since I’ve started implementing this into my play, one I find I simply have more fun playing.  Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm and it is infectious.  Two, when things aren’t going my way and I don’t allow myself to get frustrated, (I still do occasionally, sadly I’m still human), my play doesn’t suffer.  When I do allow myself to react poorly I’ve noticed I tend to make more mistakes and small setbacks seem to loom larger, subsequently my play suffers.  Besides those things, and probably the most important thing to keep in mind, Warmachine/Hordes is a social game.  No one wants to hang out with an asshole.  We get together to let our inner 12-year-old play with toy soldiers, hang out with friends, and have a good time.

Ill touch on more in my next post, till then let me know what you think makes for good sportsmanship.

Cheers, Alycard

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